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The Best Triathlon Bikes of 2021

With hopes of an upcoming jam-packed season, we dig into eight of the best triathlon bikes for 2021 and beyond.

After a season of not-so-much racing (or none at all), 2021 looks to be better, and what better way to start a better year, than with a better bike? The good news is that bike brands haven’t hit the brakes on new models completely in 2020—thanks to long-lead production schedules—and there are a few other great options from the previous years as well. In this best triathlon bikes roundup, we’ve also included a few non tri-specific options as we anticipate brand-new baby triathletes being born in 2021, and we understand that some veteran triathletes might have been bitten by the offroad bug in 2020.

What makes something a good triathlon or TT bike? We base our best triathlon bikes of 2021 ratings off the following criteria: fit range, value, comfort, acceleration stiffness, handling tightness, stability, ease of assembly—and we let you know what distance we think that tri bike is best suited for.

Criteria Description
Fit Range This is not only the number of sizes offered, but also the range from smallest to largest. Obviously tri bikes can (and should) be adapted by a good fitter, and a fitter should ideally be consulted even before purchasing a bike, but this rating details how much adjustment (I.e., aerobar spacers, alternate saddle positions, etc) from the frame’s baseline could be required to get an optimal fit.
Value Here we look at the value behind the complete bike, looking mostly at components, but also frame quality as well. This is not just absolute price from low to high.
Comfort This rating specifically judges the complete bike on vertical compliance, not fit or handling. Keep in mind that more than just a frame can affect comfort, and since we evaluate the complete bike as it’s sold, other components can come into play—wheels, tires, even bars.
Acceleration Stiffness This is another rating that looks at the sum of the parts on the complete build. Here we’re evaluating how the bike responds under high torque (standing up over a hill or out of a corner) and high wattage (powering over a roller). Again, other components aside from the frame can come into play here.
Handling Tightness Separate from stability, this is the rating that scores how sharp the bike cuts corners. This isn’t necessarily a positive thing if you prefer a bike that sweeps more reliably through corners, as opposed to a bike that can turn on a dime. 5/5 here is very tight handling; 1 / 5 is a bike that swoops out on corners but might be more consistent.
Stability This rating looks at how stable a bike feels in the aerobars in crosswinds and on descents. A more stable bike will require less input from the rider to stay straight, but again, it looks at the complete bike as a whole—wheels included.
Best Distance This is a quick look at which distance tri the bike will be good for, out of the box. Of course pretty much all the bikes we review work for almost any distance, but these distances are where each complete bike—as shipped—will shine.
Ease of Assembly With so many bike brands using the direct-to-consumer model, we rate how easy the home build would be for the average triathlete. Here, we’re assuming a low level of mechanical skill—for instance, the person we’re rating for could change a tire, but maybe not adjust a derailleur.

Editor’s Note: While the gear below was loaned out by the brands represented, all choices were selected independently by the tester without any promotional consideration or brand input. Also, unlike other “best triathlon bike review” websites, our testers actually build and ride each of the bikes ourselves—no glancing at spec sheets and rewording marketing terms!

Best Triathlon Bikes of 2021

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Canyon Speedmax CF 7 Disc

$3,800, 20lbs. 6oz. (size M), 105 Build, Reynolds AR58 DB Carbon Wheels
canyon.com

The Canyon Speedmax CF 7 Disc is one of the best triathlon bikes of 2021 and is available for $3,800.
Best Triathlon Bikes Category Rating
Overall Rating o o o o
Fit Range o o o o
Value o o o o o
Comfort o o o
Acceleration Stiffness o o o o
Handling Tightness o o o o
Stability o o o
Ease of Assembly (if direct to consumer) o o o
Best Distance 70.3 and under

Even though we were super caught up in the hype surrounding the newly redesigned Speedmax CFR and CF SLX, Canyon’s new “entry-level” model is actually pretty exciting on its own. As we’ve seen with other bikes like Cervelo’s P-Series, the trickle-down technology in this lower-priced model is on par with designs that once cost at least twice this much. In fact, Canyon says this is the same aerodynamic design that Jan Frodeno used to win his recent Ironman World Championship titles. And while reason dictates that he obviously had better components, wheels, and probably legs than anyone who will ride this setup, it’s encouraging to know that this frameset is based on some very slippery design. 

Lineage aside, this is a bike with fantastic value (those Reynolds wheels alone are generally in the $1,300 range) that you could race right out of the box. The only caveats we found while testing this bike is the handling is a little tight for anyone who likes to “tune out and go” (long-course triathletes, I’m looking at you), and the ride quality is a little on the harsher side. Finally,while this is basically a race-ready build, it doesn’t necessarily fall under the “if it arrives on race morning, you could build and go” category that some of Canyon’s and Quintana Roo’s bikes do, as there is a little more assembly required than the higher-end models. Still nothing particularly technical, just a little more time consuming.

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Felt IA Advanced Ultegra

$5,000, 21lbs. (size 48), Ultegra Mechanical Build, Reynolds AR58 DB Carbon Wheels
feltbicycles.com

This Felt IA Advanced Ultegra is well priced at $5,000, putting it on our list of the best triathlon bikes.
Best Triathlon Bikes Category Rating
Overall Rating o o o o
Fit Range o o o o
Value o o o o
Comfort o o o
Acceleration Stiffness o o o
Handling Tightness o o o
Stability o o o o
Ease of Assembly (if direct to consumer) N/A
Best Distance Any distance

Speaking of heritage frames, this far sub-superbike-priced setup from Felt has all of the slippery aero that won Kona six times, but at less than half the price of what Daniela would be riding. Of course, like the Speedmax CF 7, there are some lesser components (and legs) than Daniela and her setup, but having that pro-tested design underneath you is a comforting thought. 

Our smaller tester loved the wide fit range (five sizes) and the stability the bike provided for straight-line grinding in low-wind conditions. Surprisingly—given the IA’s Hawaiian pedigree, we did find that the bike was slightly squirrly in crosswinds and on big, fast descents, but that also speaks to the unsurprising abilities of Ryf and Carfrae, who both push this rig through Kona’s notoriously nasty windswept lava fields unhindered. Part of this unease in crosswinds could be due to a heavy feeling that testers also noted on the IA’s front end—but nothing so bad as to knock this bike down many stars on the rating. The only other caveat here was that mechanical shifters at this pricepoint is right on the edge of reasonable when compared to other brands.

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Specialized Shiv Expert Disc

$9,000, 21lbs., 15oz. (size M), Ultegra Di2 Build, Roval C 38 Disc Carbon Wheels
specialized.com

Best Triathlon Bikes Category Rating
Overall Rating o o o o
Fit Range o o o o
Value o o
Comfort o o o o
Acceleration Stiffness o o o
Handling Tightness o o o
Stability o o o
Ease of Assembly (if direct to consumer) N/A
Best Distance Any distance

When Specialized announced the Shiv Disc a few years ago at Kona, the revolutionary integrated hydration system tucked cleverly into the back of the seattube really turned some heads. Being able to refill on the go and drink from a straw that runs almost the length of the bike (without weighing down the front end and causing handling problems) was incredibly novel at the time, but the staggering price tag and limited availability made that work of art pretty much unobtainable for most. While this version of the same bike is still pretty high on the price sheet, at least the cost is somewhat earthbound. And yet there’s a lot of R&D and super-specific parts that make the cost almost justifiable. Hydration and nutrition aside, the Shiv boasts a very cool, and very simple folding base bar system, that makes travel pretty effortless—though the high seat tube could necessitate a tall bike box in some sizes anyway. 

In terms of ride, the Shiv Disc is very very middle-of-the-road, in a good way that makes this a good choice for lots of riders with lots of abilities over lots of distances. It’s great on high-frequency bumps and good on low- and mid-frequency stuff; it has predictable handling, even (surprisingly) in crosswinds. And while it’s not super super stiff when standing to power over hills and out of corners, it has that finely-tuned feel that gives, then springs back—a characteristic you’d find on “lively” road bikes. 

The only downsides we could find were the oddly shallow choice of wheels and Ultegra Di2 on what should definitely be a race-ready build at this price. We also had some struggles with refilling the hydration cell on the go—likely something that requires a little more practice. We also found the nutrition “cell” on the downtube to be very novel, but not quite as useful as the old tried-and-true top tube bento box.

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Orbea Ordu M10iLTD

$9,000, 19lbs. (size M1), Dura-Ace Di2 Build, Vision 55 SC Carbon Wheels
orbea.com

Best Triathlon Bikes Category Rating
Overall Rating o o o o
Fit Range o o o
Value o o o
Comfort o o o
Acceleration Stiffness o o o o
Handling Tightness o o o o
Stability o o o
Ease of Assembly (if direct to consumer) o o o
Best Distance 70.3 and below

The release of a new disc version of the long-in-the-tooth Ordu has been a long time coming, but the good news is that the wait wasn’t in vain. Fans of the iconic Spanish brand should be pleased to see Orbea (finally) joining the rest of the world with a competent and capable superbike that has a slippery front end, decent fit options, disc brakes, and fantastic paint. 

Much like the new and still UCI-legal Cervelo P5, which we loved so much, the new Ordu is a study in simplicity, with clean lines that make it work well for shorter races, though the lack of built-in hydration and nutrition isn’t a ready-made slam dunk for long course. On that same note, the simplicity of the Ordu makes it a breeze for travel—with quick build and break down—and flexibility for evolving fits. The bikes snappy acceleration and very light weight make it a particularly fun bike to ride, but also a little on the twitchier side for those who like to plug and chug.

We found that twitchiness to be a potential artifact of a higher bar position—something that is definitely possible due to the fact that this bike ostensibly only comes in three sizes (two of the middle sizes are the same frame with different seat posts and front-end modules). Also, the lack of a wide range of arm pad widths made some of our more flexible fitters a little nervous, but nothing so tight that it would cause issues for most riders. The only other downside to this bike is the lack of integrated hydration—which we mentioned before—something that wouldn’t even have been notable a year or two ago, but with most bikes in the $6k+ range not relying on external setups, it’s a little bit of a gap.

**Members only** Read the extended review here

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Cervelo PX-Series

$12,000, 21lbs. 14oz. (size L), Dura-Ace Di2 Build, DT Swiss ARC 1100 Carbon Wheels
cervelo.com

Best Triathlon Bikes Category Rating
Overall Rating o o o
Fit Range o o o o
Value o o
Comfort o o o
Acceleration Stiffness o o
Handling Tightness o o o o
Stability o o
Ease of Assembly (if direct to consumer) N/A
Best Distance 70.3 and below

Featuring one of the most aggressively aerodynamic designs available, the PX-Series is one of Cervelo’s most unapologetically excessive bikes. Modeled after the troublesome P5x that finally got some much-needed upgrades in terms of weight and adjustability, this is a bike made to point in one direction and hammer—this is not a beginner- or even intermediate-rider’s bike. 

It goes without saying that the PX-Series is aerodynamic, but it also still has an excellent range of fit options that allow a comfortable position (be aware, this is a tight cockpit per size) or an incredibly aggressive one. Much like the Specialized Shiv Disc Expert, the PX-Series has a split basebar to help with packing—smartly assuming that this level of rider would be traveling with his or her bike. In terms of ride, this bike excels on flat to rolling terrain, as it powers over climbs well, provided you stay seated and grind.

Unfortunately with a bike this aggressively positioned, it leaves many riders wanting. There is a surprising lack of built-in hydration—particularly with a design as open as this—and you’ll still need to add more to the already-high price tag to give this enough storage and hydration for a long-course race. The ride itself is notoriously twitchy and slightly harsh, another argument for an advanced rider on this bike. Finally, this bike truly excels when tucked deep into an aero position, and unsurprisingly for a non-double-diamond frame, it doesn’t accelerate well when you stand and power up steep hills or out of corners.

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Scott Plasma RC 6

$9,000, 21lbs. 12oz. (size M), Ultegra Di2 Build, Syncros Capital 1.0 50 Carbon Wheels
scottbikes.com

Best Triathlon Bikes Category Rating
Overall Rating o o o o o
Fit Range o o o o o
Value o o o o
Comfort o o o o
Acceleration Stiffness o o o
Handling Tightness o o
Stability o o o o
Ease of Assembly (if direct to consumer) N/A
Best Distance All distances

Scott’s new Plasma 6 is a good news/bad news proposition for the global bikemaker that has traditionally been a part of tri. First the good news: Scott’s newly designed Plasma is a tri-first bike that breaks the UCI rules and ticks all of the boxes multisport athletes are looking for right now. The bad news is that with the introduction of the Plasma 6, the least expensive bike in Scott’s line (as of this writing) is about $9,000. Good news if you have almost $10k to spend on a race-ready bike; bad news if you don’t.

The worst part about the Plasma 6 is that it’s one of the best bikes we’ve tested all year. It has balanced, predictable handling through corners—something all tri bikes should strive for, but don’t always—which is aided by an integrated hydration bladder that puts the water weight in the top and downtubes. Much like the new Canyon Speedmax CF SLX and CFR systems (actually, a lot like Canyon’s system), the location of the straw and the refill port makes drinking and refilling incredibly easy while keeping liquid off the handlebars where it can affect handling. The ride is super smooth, but lively while standing, and it’s a stable design in straight lines, fast, and into crosswinds.

The only downsides to this otherwise perfect bike is the otherworldly buy-in for the tech, and we also noticed a slight bit of flex in the basebars when climbing. Not enough to make the bike itself flexy—it remained lively still—but just enough to notice and maybe consider for some power loss. That said, in the aero position, this bike moved very well.

**Members only** Read the extended review here

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Ventum GS-1

$2,900, 18lbs. 11oz. (size M/L), SRAM Force Build, FSA NS Alloy Wheels
ventumracing.com

Best Triathlon Bikes Category Rating
Overall Rating o o o
Fit Range o o o o
Value o o o o
Comfort o o o
Acceleration Stiffness o o o o
Handling Tightness o o o o
Stability o o o
Ease of Assembly (if direct to consumer) o o o o o
Best Distance Shorter gravel treks

It should be no shock to anyone that gravel bikes have been crushing it over the last year—even more so as we descended into pandemic mode. Now tri bikemaker Ventum is getting in on the action with the introduction of their new GS-1 gravel bike. Known for their direct-to-consumer model and super high-value tri-specific bikes, Ventum’s entry is unsurprisingly race-feeling, lightweight, and fairly priced for a carbon gravel setup.

Unlike their tri bikes, the GS-1 is a very tight-handling, almost rough ride—for a gravel bike. Obviously it’s easy to adjust ride quality with wheels and more commonly tire pressure for off-road, but this was a bike that almost felt like something you’d want to race on or would be a good group-ride road bike with a wheel and tire swap. In that same note, this was one of the snappier-accelerating gravel bikes we’ve tried at this price, and the weight is very low for something under $3k.

Elsewhere, the lack of frame and fork mounts were very surprising and make this a less-versatile, and again road-focused bike. Compare this to the similarly priced Obed Boundary (Obed is a division of the company who owns tri brand Quintana Roo) that is much less snappy and heavier but is also dotted with mounts all over the bike. Finally, the front end of the GS-1 is slightly flighty—likely a side-effect of the über-tight handling—and lifted easily when climbing super steep hills. Ventum does offer an interesting solution to the bike’s tightness, however, in its unique dual-offset fork that allows you to move the front wheel forward and backward in the fork mounts themselves.

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A2 Bikes Road Phreak

$2,000, 20lbs. 8oz. (size L), SRAM Rival Build, Vision Team 30 Alloy Wheels
a2bikes.com

Best Triathlon Bikes Category Rating
Overall Rating o o o
Fit Range o o o o
Value o o o o o
Comfort o o o o
Acceleration Stiffness o o
Handling Tightness o o o o
Stability o o
Ease of Assembly (if direct to consumer) o o o
Best Distance 70.3 and below, shorter rides under 100mi.

In a similar vein to Canyon and Ventum, A2 is known for their value-priced, direct-to-consumer model. Though traditionally known for their tri bikes, A2 has made the drop-bar leap with some crazy-low, rock-bottom prices on entry-level bikes. New for this year, the Road Phreak follows suit with a carbon-framed road bike that still has name-brand components, all right at $2k—which is generally unheard of. This is a great option for brand-new triathletes who aren’t ready to commit to a tri bike or triathletes looking for a second (or third) bike to supplement their tri rides.

Obviously the price on this bike is basically hors-category, and unseen in other brands, so it becomes a category in itself. Better yet, the bars leave space for some brands of clip-on aerobar clamps, placed close to the stem. If you need a different setup that doesn’t fit, swapping out the bars with mechanical disc brakes isn’t as horrifying as it would be with hydraulics. The ride itself is smooth—typical of low-priced carbon bikes—and the clean, cable-free lines on the frame are another big bonus for a price range that generally has everything exposed. Finally, this is a great beginner tri option as the seatpost allows tons of space to slam the seat into a zero-offset position to get a good steep, aero position.

Like anything at this price, there’s always something that’s sacrificed, and on this setup, it’s the snappiness and acceleration you’d typically get on higher-end carbon frames. Of course the very low-end wheelset is another likely culprit, but the fact still remains. More surprisingly, the geometry is set up for an aggressive, almost twitchy-handling bike that actually falls along the lines of what A2’s tri bikes often feel like. Of course things like weight and mechanical brakes are just a symptom of the price, but be aware that mechanical discs do not feel very much like hydraulics (though they are infinitely easier to work on!).

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More of the Best Triathlon Bikes

Just a few months ago we reviewed eight other triathlon bikes for our Active Pass and Triathlete Pass members. Read all the reviews of these tri bikes:

– A2 Bikes Speed Phreak
– Cervelo P-Series
– Ventum Z
– Ceepo Katana Disc
Canyon Speedmax CF SLX 8.0 SL
– TriRig Omni
– Argon 18 118+
QR PRsix2 Disc

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